Handicapped Flyers down Maple Leafs

Archived from 1998-99 season.

1999 Playoffs

Toronto series


Maple Leafs

The underdog Philadelphia Flyers, playing without captain Eric Lindros, stunned the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 3-0 series-opening victory Thursday night. John Vanbiesbrouck made 25 saves, including a penalty shot by Mats Sundin.

"It's only one game but it's a great start for us," said John LeClair. "Hopefully, we can build off of it. We have to do a lot better. They had some really good scoring chances. We can't rely on Beezer to that magnitude every night."

One of the key points of the game occured in the first period when both Chris Therien and Keith Jones were sent off for cross-checking in the 11th minute and Toronto had two-man advantage for two minutes. The Maple Leafs failed to score and the Flyers took 1-0 lead soon after returning to full strength.

"He seemed to catch one there on the 5-on-3 and he picked it out of the air," said Flyers coach Roger Neilson. "He made a lot of great saves tonight. He's got to be the highlight tape."

Toronto got their biggest chance 51 seconds in the third period. Flyers' Steve Duchesne closed his hand on the puck inside the crease and Toronto was awarded a penalty shot which was taken by Mats Sundin, but Vanbiesbrouck made the save.

"Anytime a goaltender does that for a team, it's a big lift," LeClair said. "Everybody got a big boost on that penalty shot."

Toronto was the highest-scoring team during the regular season with 268 goals, but failed to solve Vanbiesbrouck.

"They played their kind of game. They'd shoot it out and shoot it in," said Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn. "They didn't do anything different than what they did during the year. We didn't establish any real puck movement. We were pretty easy to play early in the game."

The Maple Leafs had planned to beat the Flyers with superior speed, but bad passes and persistent Flyers checking ruined Toronto's offensive flow. The giveaways at game's end had Toronto on the high end of a dubious 24-10 count.

"We just didn't score on our chances," said Sundin. "We created a lot of stuff but weren't able to capitalize."

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